Will I Still Be Allowed To Suspend My Benefits At Full Retirement Age If I Receive Disability Benefits?

Mar 11 2017 - 6:45am

Hi Larry,
As everyone else I'm amazed with the confusion that you point out in your book.
I have been receiving ssdi since 2/2015 , the maximum, which happened shortly after my 62 nd birthday. DOB 1/13/53 At my attorneys advice, I applied mid November for both ssi and ssdi. I was approved ssdi shortly afterwards.
My wife DOB 12/01/55 worked and at FRA could collect approx. 1400 a month.
Because I filed for ssi with ssdi have I removed the option of suspending my payment at my FRA until 70 years old to allow a larger benefit for my wife?
I'm aware she is deemed for spousal benefit. She plans to wait until FRA to receive her benefit.
Thanks John

Hi John,

Your disability benefits will automatically convert to retirement benefits when you reach age 66, and at that time you can voluntarily suspend your benefits in order to accrue delayed retirement credits (DRC). And, if you suspend your benefits for the full 4 years from age 66 to 70, your benefit rate will increase by 32%. What you can't do, however, is draw spousal benefits on your wife's record while your own benefits are in suspense, thanks to Social Security rewriting their rules in December 2014 (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/social-securitys-christmas-pres...).

It's unlikely that your wife will be able to draw spousal benefits on your record while you are living. If her own full retirement age rate (PIA) is $1400, your disability rate would have to be more than $2800 for her to qualify for additional spousal benefits. This would still be true even if you suspend your benefits from age 66 to 70, since spousal benefits are calculated based on 50% of the worker's PIA, and not the higher age 70 rate that includes DRCs. However, if you increase your benefit rate by suspending your benefits between ages 66 & 70, the increase would carry over to your wife's potential widow's rate if you die first.

Best, Jerry